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Transparency in Ad Tech: Past, Present and Future

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By Paul Woodrow, Senior Manager, Demand Generation Operations, EMEA
July 16, 2019

Among the discussion points that dominate our relentlessly fast-paced industry, transparency is arguably the one that concerns buyers most. Without making it part of the ongoing discussion and delivering on it, we will struggle to build a credible and trustworthy industry long-term that will continue to grow at the rate it has. It can be rightly claimed that the ultimate control sits with those who dictate the budgets, thus it’s imperative we get this right for the demand-side of the ecosystem.

For the buy-side, the key word is trust. This resonates in every conversation, right down to the pitch process with agencies and marketers. In fact, it has become a necessity for brand marketers as part of the agency pitch process. Tech partners must, therefore, act accordingly to win the hearts and minds of advertisers whilst not becoming complacent.

Ad Tech Transparency

Today, transparency encompasses a myriad of things and the main areas of focus are:

  • Supply-chain: Specifically, understanding the auction dynamics, in detail, with visibility into bid stream data. An example is ensuring full publisher URL-transparency for the DSP and buyers to enable them to decision accordingly and optimise campaign performance effectively.
  • Fee structures: Gaining a holistic view on how much of a buyer’s ad spend reaches the publisher and what percentage goes to tech partners, such as supply-side platforms and third-parties including viewability, data management platforms and audience vendors.
  • Inventory quality: Through tackling fraud and providing the advertiser access to supply that is not only brand-safe, but made up of real audiences to help deliver against on-target campaign objectives.

It’s natural for an industry that grows and innovates at such a rapid rate as ours to have growing pains. Historically, there have been occasions where advertisers have unfortunately been exposed in non-brand-safe environments and, in some cases, against a fraudulent “audience” of bot traffic on spoofed domains. However, with measures such as ads.txt and sellers.json, not to mention fraud prevention efforts by industry leaders, we are in a much healthier position than we were even a year ago.

Where Is Ad Tech Going?

So what does the next frontier look like? Certainly, there will be a focus among industry bodies on initiatives that align all stakeholders to continue to build trust among buyers. This will lead to greater commitment from the buy-side and leading independent ad tech players to operate impartially outside of closed ecosystems. This will in-turn impact how publishers approach their tech partnerships.

Another area we may see a push for transparency is among agencies. The good news is that the industry has made some great strides over recent times towards greater transparency and building trust. However, there is still work to do and we mustn’t lose focus.

How Is PubMatic Tackling Transparency in Ad Tech?

We have been at the forefront of the transparency discussion and will continue to focus heavily on the buy-side as well as the overall sustainability of the industry. Some of our initiatives and commitments include:

  • Partnerships with key vendors such as Moat, White Ops, Majestic, JICWEBS and Pixelate to deliver on brand safety, inventory quality and viewability measurement solutions for buyers.
  • TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group) certified against fraud and an in-house inventory quality team to develop a safe exchange to buy from.
  • Monetising only txt certified inventory whilst playing an active role in becoming certified in IAB Tech Lab initiatives such as app-ads.txt, sellers.json and the OpenRTB Supply Chain Object.

All of this is underpinned by our fraud-free program so buyers do not pay for inventory that fails to meet the standards of any accredited partner listed under the Media Ratings Council.

Want to Learn More?

Buyers can, and should, be asking for greater transparency in ad tech. It is a concept at the forefront of PubMatic’s products, solutions and programs. To learn more about how we are working to clean up the programmatic ecosystem, check out our buyer initiatives or contact us.